The Girls writer-producer-star is about to debut season five of her hit HBO show, but this rarely-talked-about health issue is pausing any press or promotion she was planning to do

By Kaitlin Menza
AP Images

Back in high school, you may have told your gym teacher you had bad cramps to get out of playing volleyball whether you had your period or not. As any woman knows, though, that monthly pain is nothing to joke about. (How Much Pelvic Pain Is Normal for Menstrual Cramps?) Even Lena Dunham, in a recent post on her Instagram, has opened up about her own excruciating uterine pain and how it's impacting her life-and even messing with her career.

Dunham has endometriosis, and a recent flare-up of pain is keeping her from promoting (and celebrating!) the newest season of Girls, which debuts on February 21 on HBO. In her Insta pic, she photographed what seems to be her own hand (with a cool half-moon mani), holding onto sheets. In the long accompanying caption, she let fans know what's going on: "I am currently going through a rough patch with the illness and my body (along with my amazing doctors) let me know, in no uncertain terms, that it's time to rest." Her full message is here:

Endometriosis is a disease in which tissue similar to the lining of a woman's uterus is found elsewhere in her body, either floating around or attaching itself to other internal organs. The body still tries to shed this tissue every month, leading to tremendously painful cramps throughout the abdomen, bowel problems, nausea, and heavy bleeding. Over time, endometriosis can cause fertility problems-some women don't even know they have the disorder until they try to get pregnant and have a difficult time.

For as common as endometriosis is-Dunham was correct in saying that it affects one in ten women-it's difficult to diagnose and often misunderstood. The Girls wunderkind has made her name on depicting some of the realer, grittier, uglier sides of the female experience, and this Instagram is yet another example of that. Endometriosis isn't nearly as fun as hitting a red carpet for your smash TV show, but it's just as much a part of her real life. Kudos to Dunham for once again discussing women's bodies in a simple, honest, utterly relatable way. And feel better soon! (P.S. A recent study found that Birth Control Pills Could Slash Your Risk of Endometrial Cancer.)

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